This Saturday, the Blood and Sand welcome Darlington Mowden Park to Volac Park.
Darlington is of course the home of the railways. Not only the original Stockton and Darlington Line, but a home to railway works that produced some of the most famous steam locomotives, many designed by chief engineer Sir Nigel Gresley.
His designs included:
- the A1 Peppercorn - some may have seen the Typhoon which was recently built at Darlington to the original designs, though with modern safety features;
- the A3 - including the Flying Scot the first steam locomotive to be recorded at 100mph;
- and the streamlined A4 - of which the most famous is Mallard still the fastest steam locomotive, though that specific engine was built at Doncaster. The record run causes a bearing to overheat - so it was not ale to continue the service beyond Peterborough.
Sir Nigel retired to St. Albans where he bred ducks. There is now a statue of Sir Nigel at King's Cross - though it is missing the duck that was in the maquette.
We travelled to Darlington in hope. We had just had a close encounter with Old Albanian losing narrowly by two points. We hoped the wide pitch at the Northern Echo Arena would let us run - but stubborn home defence kept us out and could not stop the hosts scoring. We did score two late tries but lost 37-12.
Since then Darlington have struggled. Though the winter break may have been good for them. Last week DMP have completed a double over Ampthill winning 14-12 at home. This puts them a point behind Cambridge in the table. However, like many National 1 sides, they do much better at home than on the road. Aside from their early win at Ampthill, their only other away win was at Blaydon.
Ricky Reeves said that when Cambridge are on the front foot with the Cambridge crowd cheering them on - it is the best feeling in the world. The weather forecast is for sunshine following an overnight frost - which should make for running rugby. So come down and give the boys the support they deserve.
You can read Darlington's view of the match here